Photo: A.Robinson A.Robinson

Photo: A.Robinson A.Robinson

Photo: A.Robinson A.Robinson

Photo: A.Robinson A.Robinson

Distribution map generated from Australia's Virtual Herbarium.


Solanum cleistogamum Symon, Trans. Roy. Soc. S. Austral. 95: 227; fig. 1 (1971)

T: c. 32 km N (?NE) of Onslow, W.A., 1 July 1967, D.E. Symon 5418; holo: PERTH; iso: AD: ex ADW, CANB, K, L.

S. petrophilum var. pedicellatum Ewart & Davies, Fl. Northern Territory 243; t. 21 (1917).

T: Lat. 19°S, long. 132°E, N.T., 4 July 1911, G.F. Hill 435; holo: MEL; iso: MEL.

Bean (2004) treats this species as part of S. ellipticum and the scoring of S. ellipticum in this key encompasses the characteristics of S. cleistogamum.


Sprawling annual or herbaceous perennial, with stems to 60 cm long, grey-green, occasionally rusty-green, densely pubescent with stellate hairs; prickles to 10 mm long, usually common on stems, petioles and calyx-tube, less common or absent elsewhere.  

Leaves ovate to ovate-lanceolate; lamina 3–10 cm long, 1–4 cm wide, slightly discolorous, entire to weakly lobed; petiole mostly 12–25 mm long.  

Inflorescence 1–4–flowered; peduncle 5–40 mm long; rachis 1–4 cm long; pedicels 5–10 mm long, lengthening in fruit. Calyx 4–6 mm long, sometimes longer; lobes almost linear, 2–3 mm long. Corolla rotate, 10–15 mm diam., pale lavender, often remaining closed. Anthers 2.5–3 mm long.  

Berry globular, 10–13 mm diam., pale yellow-green or slightly purple; fruiting pedicels usually 15–30 mm long. Seeds 2.5–3 mm long, light brown. n=12.

Distribution and ecology

Occurs predominantly in W.A. and southern N.T., and in isolated localities in S.A., Qld and N.S.W. Usually associated with rocky or gravelly hillsides or creek lines, or in depressions on sand plains.


A variable species; may be confused with S. ellipticum R. Br. and S. dianthophorum Dunal. Bean (2004) treats S. cleistogamum as part of S. ellipticum .

A favoured food of the Aboriginal people of central Australia; see P. Latz, Bushfires & Bushtucker, IAD Press, Alice Springs (1995).

Information on the food composition of the fruit of S. cleistogamum can be accessed through the NUTTAB 2006 (Nutrient Tables for use in Australia) database of the Food Standards Australia New Zealand.

Selected specimens

W.A.: N of Geraldton, D.E. Symon 5448 (MEL, PERTH). N.T.: Erldunda Stn, P.K. Latz 4971 (AD, CANB, NT). S.A.: Mt Alexander, D.E. Symon 9108 (AD). N.S.W.: near Brewarrina, D.J. McGillivray 2907 (NSW).


Plant status, if any

Conservation status as a plant of least concern in theNorthern Territorysee

From the web

Information about S. cleistogamum as an edible fruit can be seen at where they are referred to as Passion berry.

Images of S. cleistogamum could once be seen on Florabase but these are now encompassed under S. ellipticum .

A fact sheet for this species can be downloaded from the SA eFlora site.